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The Incredible Health Benefits Of Martial Arts Training

Thinking about trying martial arts? Good choice. A regular training regime can give you countless advantages—physically and mentally—that you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. You’ve probably heard of the many health benefits of martial arts and, as a result, were curious to learn more.

As of this writing, I’ve been training Brazilian jiu-jitsu for 3 years. And I can tell you from personal experience that a regular training regime in a martial arts discipline can revolutionize your health fairly quickly. In this article, I’m going to explain how. Read on.

Benefits of Martial Arts Training

Men training in brazilian jiu jitsu

Whether you’re training in a striking martial art like Muay Thai or Kickboxing or a grappling one like Wrestling or BJJ, you’ll notice improvements. Changes will occur in everything from your physicality to your mentality. Let’s take a look in more detail at some of the health benefits of martial arts.

Martial Arts as a Form of Physical Activity

You could burn up to 700 calories an hour training BJJ or up to 750 calories an hour training Muay Thai. Those caloric figures could easily jump up to 1000 (or more) if you’re preparing for competition. All of this to say that martial arts are an incredible form of physical activity. Other physical advantages of a consistent training regime may include:

  • More flexibility and mobility
  • Improved strength and balance
  • Increased stamina
  • Body fat reduction and more

Few things will tone your body and strengthen your muscles more than consistently training in some type of self-defense discipline. For this reason, martial arts are a powerful way to transform and improve your physicality.

Positive Impact on Cardiovascular Health

A study published by the National Library of Medicine concluded that martial arts training can improve cardiovascular health. The study included 59 participants (adults and adolescents). Over a 9-month period, their cardiovascular health improved. Imagine what you could do with reinforced cardio; you could:

  • Experience more energy and endurance
  • Have greater levels of mental fortitude
  • Go the distance in other physical activities
  • Deliver more output at work
  • Handle stress and anxiety more effectively

One of the most significant health benefits of martial arts is the “staying power” it creates in its practitioners. You develop the resilience to endure discomfort. And that fortitude then spills over into other areas of your life.

Improved Muscle Tone and Strength

One of my BJJ coaches is (like myself) a smaller practitioner. In fact, he’s only about 130 lbs, soaking wet, and even that is being generous. And yet, pound for pound, he’s probably the strongest person I’ve ever met, given his weight class. The catalyst? Ten years of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. His strength and muscle tone are so dense that it’s hard to escape once he gets his grip on you.

Martial arts can strengthen and tone your physicality. The sheer effort exerted during training is enough to reinforce your muscle tone, making your body more muscular and athletic.

The Role of Martial Arts in Overall Health and Well-being

female boxer

I’ve talked a lot about the physical benefits of martial arts, but these advantages also extend to your mental well-being. In fact, a major reason many practitioners train is because of the mental aspects. Let’s explore a few of those advantages in more detail.

Impact on Cognitive Function and Mental Well-being

Training can be therapeutic from a cognitive standpoint. Similar to any other form of physical exertion, martial arts releases endorphins (the “feel good” hormone) to create a sense of mental wellness. As a result, your thinking becomes clearer, and your mind is less cluttered with the stresses of the day. Other mental benefits include:

  • Reduction of stress
  • Emotional regulation
  • Deeper focus
  • Relaxed state of mind
  • Mental toughness

The mental health benefits of martial arts are among the biggest reasons people take up combat sports. Learning a self-defense discipline is as much mental as it is physical.

Martial Arts as a Potential Treatment for Mental Health Conditions

Martial arts can be therapeutic for certain mental health conditions. Training forces you to practice deep breathing while also pushing yourself physically against opponents during sparring. These factors may reduce stress and anxiety in your life. And that’s because martial arts serves as a form of therapy that can release pent-up emotional baggage.

When you start a training regime, you’re forced to become present. You have to, or else you’ll miss the coach’s instructions, and you’ll end up getting smashed. As a result, you (over time) begin building the skills of deep breathing for more focus and concentration. You, in essence, are practicing a form of mindfulness.

Evidence for the Health Benefits of Martial Arts Training

Training in a combat sport can impact every facet of your life. There’s a reason why martial arts academies the world over promote their services as a pathway to personal growth and development. Martial arts is more than self-defense or a way to blow off steam; it’s a vehicle that can drive your personal development.

Impact on Physical Health and Fitness Level

I started training in Brazilian jit-jitsu in 2021. While I was already relatively active at the time, taking up the sport pushed my physical fitness to the next level. I’ll never forget the day I noticed the change in my body. It was only a couple of months after taking up jiu-jitsu. I remember stepping out of the shower one evening.

As I was leaving my bathroom, I glanced at my reflection in the mirror through my peripherals. And then I saw it… Was that my abs? Me? With noticeable abs??? NO WAY!

abs from training martial arts

See, I was overweight throughout my childhood. In fact, I actually got bullied and teased a lot due to my weight. Not much changed in my teen years and throughout my twenties. Sure, I thinned out a little. However, I was what they called “skinny-fat.” (where you look thin with a shirt on but are actually hiding a lot of pudge underneath it).

But that all changed when I started training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The photo above was taken in 2021, shortly after taking up the sport. I was 30 years old. It took until my late twenties to get in the best shape of my life, and I owe it all to martial arts.

Quality of Life Improvement Through Martial Arts Training

Everyone wants to live a good life. I can’t think of a single moment I’ve ever heard anybody at any time say, “I want to be miserable!” Another one of the major health benefits of martial arts is the improvement it makes to your overall quality of life.

Let me explain…

  1. Relationships: You form bonds with your training partners. As you connect through this shared activity, you learn about their lives: their goals and aspirations, their difficulties and challenges. etc. As a result, rapport and connection are established.
  2. Therapy: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stressed out about work or life in general, only to have those frustrations wash away after spending an hour on the mats. Martial arts can be a form of therapy to help you release pent-up energy.
  3. Self-discipline: If you’ve ever had a problem with consistency, discipline, honoring your word, etc., martial arts can help strengthen that weak point. Progress in a martial arts discipline requires consistency. The more you show up, the better you get. And the best part is that this consistent effort will begin to spill over into other areas of your life.

Specific Martial Arts and Their Health Benefits

You can experience the health benefits of martial arts in pretty much any discipline you choose. However, you may be curious about what the best ones are. Here are a few of the disciplines you should consider.

Kickboxing: Enhancing Self-defense and Physical Fitness

Kickboxing is more than a self-defense system. It’s often seen as a workout on its own. In fact, plenty of fitness facilities offer it as a program geared more toward physical fitness than self-defense. The sport offers a full-body workout that calls for the use of every muscle. As a result, you can lose weight and get shredded faster.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Boosting Cardiovascular Strength

Do you get winded on runs? Is it hard to maintain your stamina when you do cardio? Brazilian jiu-jitsu training can be a powerful way to strengthen your cardiovascular capabilities. As of this writing, I’ve been training BJJ for about 3 years, and it’s been critical for helping me maintain optimum levels of cardiovascular stamina.

Benefits of Other Martial Arts such as Muay Thai and Wrestling

Learning a martial art is a physically demanding experience, regardless of the discipline you choose to specialize in. However, this is taken to a whole new level when considering Muay Thai and Wrestling. These are probably the most physically challenging martial arts of all. But they are incredibly powerful in helping you develop strength, balance, coordination, dexterity, and cardio performance.

Conclusion

The health benefits of martial arts extend way beyond physical fitness. Practicing a combat sport can be a catalyst for skyrocketing your self-improvement journey. For this reason, it’s one of the best things you can do. If you want other personal development tips and tactics, be sure to sign up for The Motivated And Disciplined Newsletter below.

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